Welcome back to our ongoing series on group management mistakes to avoid. Last week we went over the obsolescence of command-and-control leadership. Today, we’re talking about the need for a unified understanding of the group’s mission. Furthermore, once the mission is set, members need the ability to quickly recur back to it in order to stay on track.
The start-up period is critical for any group. Your group needs a compelling vision and shared sense of values in order to have traction. In addition, leaders should ensure that all members have ongoing access to updated group documents as they change. Without this framework in place you may find yourselves struggling with even the most basic planning logistics.
Group fail: Everyone is (literally) not on the same page
Competing interests and a general lack of clarity around the identity of the group sap everyone’s motivation. After all, leaders and members of the group likely all have vibrant, busy lives outside the group! The harder it is for folks to participate, the less likely it is that they will. People working at cross purposes and from contradictory documents is both unfortunate and avoidable.
Consensus around group goals not only makes it easier for members to participate, but it also helps deepen trust. Deeper trust means stronger cooperation, which is especially important in diverse groups where people may not already know each other. This strong group culture doesn’t just appear out of nowhere! After the mandatory first-meeting trust fall ritual (we kid, we kid), leaders should make it a top priority to get everyone in conversation about the identity and agreements of the group. The co-creative process sets a good precedent for ongoing participation.
The mission drives the action
When it comes to group management, good leaders understand that every group is unique. The documents you need to think about won’t be the same for every group. You might need formal by-laws, a mission statement, group social contracts, practical vision setting for the next quarter, a stated process for how meetings are structured, etc. Regardless, it’s critical that every member has the ability to get their hands on group docs whenever they need them. There is no point in leaving in place unnecessary barriers to access. HINT: if your group is organized around top-down leadership where only the group leaders have the ability to find and distribute these docs, we’re looking at you!
….and access drives accountability
There are multiple avenues to eliminating barriers to access. The same solutions will apply whether your group is new or established. ALL groups benefit from semi-regularly revisiting old group documents, lists, and agreements and making sure that they still serve the group. Remember, for public groups that are interested in growing, items like the mission and vision statements can be powerful promotional tools to add to your homepage. Here are two practical ways to ensure a shared understanding:
1. Co-create, don’t dictate
First, include EVERYONE in the iteration process. Holding a special meeting to collaborate, edit, and vote is a powerful way to help people feel how valuable their input is to the group. Simply put, the docs are important, but the group collab process is really where the alchemy happens in terms of harnessing energy. In a future post, we’ll take you from A-Z on how to actually structure this kind of meeting to be successful no matter the size of the group.
2. Let your tech facilitate inclusivity
Second, make sure that members have ongoing access to these documents. Hosting these documents in a central location means that members can circle back to them on an as-needed basis. Increased access means members have a broader ability to contribute their energy. Don’t allow a lack of access be a contributing factor to member’s deciding it’s simply too difficult to get involved.
Find an online group management tool that can host all of these items for you. As the group changes and grows, and as you refresh old goals and old mission documents, you can version these documents and have a clear sense of your group’s history. Current members can benefit from seeing the ways the group has evolved. Shared group artifacts are a great springboard for brainstorming fresh ideas.
Good group management tech saves leaders time
Don’t fall prey to the group management mistake of letting competing interests and a lack of accessibility fracture group energy. Finding technology that supports SMART goal setting and group management efficiency should be a top priority for leaders. Shared understanding of the baseline identity of the group (who are we and what do we do?) puts members and leaders alike in a stronger position to be able to think through how to effectively do the work. Thinking through how your group management technology can best support you is one way that leaders can provide value without simply trying to do it all themselves.
The Team at Groupeasy